Relaxation

Cleaning House = Cleaning Brain

Mondays. Usually they are the start of the new work week and the harbinger of another five days of constantly having to answer questions. Not today though. Today it was a day of sleeping in, cooking a nice meal and starting the big spring cleaning process that I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of weeks now. The weekends are always too short to do projects like this though so it’s nice that I have more time now to really dive into all the stuff I’ve been hoarding and, hopefully, getting rid of a lot of it.
Today I started with personal hygiene and care products. Working at the head office of a big drugstore chain has gotten me a lot of free stuff on the make-up, shower, perfume and body care spectrum. A lot of stuff that I don’t use or that has gone bad over the years of not using it up. I dove into two bags and a crate of the stuff and ended up with two bags full of things that I could throw out. Body creams and sunblock gone bad. Perfumes that were free samples but smelled absolutely horrible. Hairsprays that didn’t really work anymore and the list goes on. It felt liberating throwing everything out and now I’m left with a crate of stuff that I actually use and keep in my bathroom. It’s mostly shampoo/conditioner, shower gels and foams, body care products and some toothpaste. I’m prepared for summer with two different types of sunblock and some after sun. I also own a ton of facial cleansing products since I like to clean my face before I go to bed and put night cream on so I feel clean and hydrated in the morning.

I notice that next to working towards a cleaner and less cluttered house, it’s also decluttering my brain. Not having to be annoyed at random bags in my bedroom anymore feels really nice. Being left with stuff that I know that I will actually use is even nicer. I don’t want to say that I’m a minimalist, because I’m really not, but I don’t want to take stuff home with me anymore that I know I won’t use that someone else actually will. So now I’m left with the necessities and it’s making me happy.

I also realized that I’ve owned Animal Crossing for more than 10 days on my Switch now which means that I can actually see how much time I’ve put into the game so far. According to my Switch it’s somewhere between 15 and 20 hours. Which means I’m playing a little over an hour each day and that sounds about right. I’m actually not really actively working towards anything right now. I’m mostly just running around my island and making sure I dig up my fossils every day aswell as find the money rock and do some fishing and bug catching. I guess I’m aiming to get the next installment of my house paid so I can upgrade again and start making some individual themed rooms instead of the one big room I have now.
I’m kind of amazed with how other people have shaped their island by all the pictures I see on Reddit and Twitter. I know a lot of people do “time traveling” to unlock stuff. Which basically means they’ve been tampering with their date and time settings on their Switch. Personally I don’t feel the need for that and instead am just doing my own thing. Which is fine aswell.

I’m not sure why I suddenly feel the need to blog so much. Maybe without my work I finally have the headspace to focus on other things. If I had more than one week off I would have considered joining Blapril as active participant since it seems like writing is coming much more naturally now that I have the time. However since I have only one week off and my work will probably be slightly crazy as I get back to it I’m going to shy away from Blapril and just do what I feel like in the moment. No stress. No commitment. It’s nice for a bit.

A tale of two

It’s been a weird couple of weeks. I’ve been sent home as of Friday the 13th to start to work remotely from home together with most of the people in my office. The Netherlands isn’t officially on lockdown due to the Corona virus just yet but we are slowly building up towards it. The government is urging everyone to stay inside as much as possible, to work from home and, if you have to go outside for whatever reason, to keep atleast 1.5m distance from others. Which is easier said than done.
This whole situation feels very surreal. Shops are closing, vacations are cancelled, entire countries are on lockdown. On the other hand the company I work for is thriving because supermarkets and drugstores are considered vital chains and as such are relied upon to be open and stocked at all times. It seems like the worst of the people stocking up has happened and as such everyone seems to be able to do their groceries shopping as normal again. The shelves are full, the stores aren’t packed to the roof with people anymore. We’re all holding our breaths as to whether we are getting even stricter rules enforced on top of the ones we already have or if the Dutch government remains a bit more lax. I guess it depends on how many people contract the virus this week.

With this pandemic making it’s way across the globe a number of gaming companies have kind of jumped in and assisted their playerbase in different ways. Square Enix is giving away free (older) games. The makers of Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online are offering all their paid content in the form of expansions as free to play to all players for a limited time. There’s free games on the Epic and Steam stores.
Blizzard has chosen to implement a 30 day experience boost to all retail characters in World of Warcraft. It’s this last action that I can personally enjoy the most. As mentioned before I’ve been leveling up a new Warlock on retail on a server that houses some friends. On my last post I made it to Northern Stranglethorn but as you can see in the screenshot at the start of the post I am already questing in Outland right now. Yesterday I powerleveled my way through Hellfire Peninsula and ended at level 70 around midnight. I think the whole 60-70 leg took me maybe three hours total. It’s really insane. With all heirlooms stacked, the 30% experience boost from having War Mode on, the 25% zone experience boost from Hellfire Peninsula and the 100% experience boost from the event just makes leveling a breeze right now. I may actually take advantage of this completely by rolling up more Allied Races so I can unlock their respective Heritage Armors. For now though I’m sticking to leveling this Void Elf Warlock. I only have 50 levels to go and with the current speed of leveling I expect to be 120 in no time.

Hellfire Peninsula was a bit of a ride on it’s own however. I think it’s one of the most contested zones to quest in with War Mode on. There seemed to be a constant battle between various levels of Horde and Alliance going on. It wasn’t as bad as Northern Stranglethorn where max level Horde characters would straight up camp one of the Alliance hubs for hours on end but… I ended up avoiding a few players nonetheless. Luckily HFP is a big zone with enough quests to do spread out across it so if there were a few Horde people in one part of the zone I just moved to another part. Right now I’m making my way to Sholazar Basin in Northrend to hopefully get from level 70 to 80 today.

The other game where I’ve been steadily making progress in has been Animal Crossing: New Horizons. As mentioned in my previous post I managed to obtain the game a few days early and I’ve been playing it every day for atleast an hour since. I’ve not been hardcore grinding anything but spreading things out a bit. As such I’ve only unlocked the store today, after finally obtaining 30 clumps of iron, and I’m waiting for my museum to be finished tomorrow. I did finally use my first Nook Miles coupon and went to a suprise isle where I met Pinky the panda, as shown above. I’ve asked her to move to my island but apparently I need to be able to build houses for that and I’m not near completion for that yet. So I don’t think I’ll see her appear for a few days atleast.
I do like the surprise island trip mechanics. You get sent to a random island that may or may not have an inhabitant. There you are free to gather whatever you want up to the limit of what you can actually carry. Unfortunately for me this particular island contained orange trees, which I have on my own island aswell, and not that many special flowers that I wanted to take back with me. On the other hand there were palm trees with coconuts so I shook all of those out of the trees so I can start planting them on my own island.

Right now I’m mostly in unlock mode. I want to get the shop built and my museum to open. Then I want to be able to connect a second part of my island via a bridge, I need to pay off my mortgage for that, so I can build more houses. Once that is under wraps I think I’m going to start thinking about terraforming/rearranging my island a bit. I have a ton of ideas but I need to figure out how everything works first.
So for now I just make sure that I dig up all the fossils around the island, collect all the seashells and shake the trees every day. I’ve expanded my inventory (yay!) and I’m working on unlocking more hairstyles and colours aswell. I think if I wanted I could play this game all day and still find more stuff to do. So I rather set small goals and work on those so that I don’t burn out and get the most enjoyment and longevity out of the game.
The only thing I really want to do still is visit the island of someone on my friends’ list. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to do that yet but I’m going to try again tonight.

All in all this forced sitting at home has kind of pushed me into playing games again. Animal Crossing released at a real opportune time and I’m finding it very relaxing to play. On the other side of the spectrum I’ve finally gotten motivated to pick up Allied Races in WoW again and I’m enjoying myself while doing so. I hope I can add some Final Fantasy XIV into the mix aswell and from there it’s just waiting untill the next big release on my radar: the Final Fantasy VII remake. I’ve pre-ordered it digitally and can’t wait to start playing it when it comes out. I’m kind of bummed that Square Enix cut up the game into multiple pieces but I hope the story is going to be as epic as I’ve been told. I’ve never actually played Final Fantasy VII so I can’t wait to dive into it and make up for all the things that I apparently missed out on.
I will have enough time to do so anyway since I don’t see the end to working remotely in sight yet. For now though it’s time to dive back into Azeroth and tackle some Sholazar Basin quests.

What are you playing this weekend?

Animal Crossing is crack

So with almost everyone getting their copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons today I can finally spill the beans about what I think about the game so far for myself. I managed to get my copy two days early due to the chain where I ordered it having to close shops. Why close shops? Well unless you’ve been living under a rock… This particular chain decided to close to protect their employees from the COVID-19 virus. Since they allowed everyone to pick up their physical copy from the store two days earlier they also decided to do the mailing two days earlier. As such I ended up with my copy on the 18th and I was pretty happy to once not get the short end of the stick.

So far I’m really enjoying the game. It’s a bit like crack in that I’m instantly addicted and I keep wanting to do more and play more whenever I take a bit of a break because I need to do something else.
It really plays like any other Animal Crossing game. You start out with a tent which you can then upgrade to a, progressively bigger, house. Tom Nook is there with Timmy and Tommy and they run the island shop. Blathers is there aswell and I’m currently working on the museum stuff. I have two inhabitants, Hammlet and Lydia, and I’m running around collecting various materials and catching fish and bugs. Oh and planting flowers.

This game is one for the long haul. Obviously I want to unlock everything as fast as I possibly can and be able to expand on my island and make it look pretty. The native trees on my island contain oranges but I’ve also planted a few cherry trees. The graphics look smooth and pretty while still keeping that familiar Animal Crossing vibe. I want to start posting screenshots from my island soon but since I don’t want to spoil things too much I’m just sticking to this short post for now.

Happy playing everyone!

Lazy on Sunday

Today I’m having a lazy day. I’m quite content with just lounging in my room, getting an hour of gameplay in here and there and otherwise just doing a whole lot of nothing. I tend to do my cleaning on Sunday because it’s usually the day we don’t have anything to do. With severe allergies towards dust mite it’s quite important that I vacuum and dust my room regularly. Especially since my bedroom is also a mini living room. I spend most of my time up here playing games, reading, watching shows and just doing my thing in general. It’s not that I don’t like spending time with my Dad and his girlfriend, it’s just that I’m often very tired and just want to be left alone. Plus they have their own schedule with watching certain shows on TV and basically completely ignoring me once I do spend time downstairs with them.

I used to have the mindset that time spent doing nothing is time badly spent. I always felt like I had to do something. Be it cleaning, working on a hobby, reading. Anything. Going outside, sporting. You name it. As I get a bit older (I’m nearing my 30’s what the hell) I realise that sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can be doing. I don’t recover as well from colds anymore, I’m very low on energy due to work and house buying related stress and I’m plagued by headaches, tiredness and random shivers. All signs that I just need to take a step back and rest up a bit more. It feels weird to be okay with living in about 6 square meters when I’m moving to an apartment that will be 50 square meters. I will actually have a living room all to my own. I can plug my consoles into an actual big TV instead of one shared with my computer. I can’t wait!

Next week I don’t really have anything special planned. There is a friend coming over on Saturday but that’s it. With some luck work will be less busy aswell and I can actually use Thursday to rest up and relax instead of going into town and driving through half the country. I probably have some time to actually dive into games a bit more than last week and I hope I can get a little bit more done in FFXIV and maybe Yo-Kai Watch. I will definitely finish off Botanicula. Point and click adventures are a very nice way to relax after a long day of work, so I can see myself finishing it in an evening or maybe two.

All in all I don’t have that much to say today. I’m in a very relaxed mood. It’s nice and quiet in the house and outside (although people are coming home as we speak). My room is cleaned, laundry is done. Fresh bedsheets and a clean pajama are waiting on me when I’m going into bed tonight. All in all I feel content today. I hope I can take this feeling with me the coming week.

Cleaning House

I’m sitting here staring at my blog, wondering what to write. It’s been a while and even though I have a lot of things to discuss I’m not sure where to really start.
Maybe I’ll start with telling you guys that I just came back from a wonderful 8 day trip to Mallorca. I’ve been needing a vacation for quite some time now and flying off to the sun for a full week was something I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I managed to get some relaxation time in and tanned a little bit. I’m really white skinned so getting any sort of tan takes me a while, especially having to prevent turning lobster red instead. I’ve done a lot of things, visited a water park, aquarium and midget golf, but mostly I took the time to destress and relax away from home.
I had my 3DS with me and I managed to finally sit down and play a few games that I’ve been meaning to. I’m about 4.5 hours into Bravely Default now, playing through Chapter 1. I never got past the intro first so it’s a milestone! I also spent about 5.5 hours total playing Ever Oasis and I’ve fallen in love with that game. The combination of having to maintain a town and also dungeoning is quite refreshing and the whole atmosphere of the game is insanely cute. I might dedicate a post to it later.

Next to going on vacation I’ve been using my free time to work through the mess that is my room and the attic. My room is more or less empty right now and I’ve thrown away about 3 trash bags worth of stuff from the attic. I’ve also been giving away a lot of my old children’s books which frees up even more room. During my cleaning I’ve stumbled across my old Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in the US) and all of its’ games and the two nintendo mini classics you see on the picture at the start of my post. I’m fully intending to put batteries in atleast one of these and hang it on my bag to play. I remember having a very good time as a 9 year old with these games and I’m sure if they still work they’re still a blast to play. The silver one is Super Mario Bros. and the green one is Donkey Kong jr. It made me insanely happy to find these because well, I like my game collection and these two were “missing” for quite a while.
It feels nice to get rid of things. I’ve never been a hoarder, but a lot of my stuff got chucked up on the attic out of habit. It was and still is quite full with tons of things that I need to sift through, but for now I’m happy with my progress and I will continue a later time. Ideally I want the shelves that now hold old toys and books to be reserved for my older gaming gear, mostly so I know where it is and it’s easy to pick up whenever I would want to play it.

Speaking of games…
Ofcourse I have played the shit out of Stormblood. My Ninja is currently sitting on level 70 with a full Lakshmi Ex kitted right side and waiting on her Susano ex weapon. I am going to do Omega Normal tonight with my Free Company, something I’m quite looking forward to aswell. Leveling a DPS hasn’t been the easiest this expansion, mostly due to insane queue times. I think the longest I’ve had so far has been an hour. And that’s not even counting the queue times to get on the server itself. I really enjoyed the Stormblood story, especially the Doman part. My Ninja plays really nicely if we forget about Ten-Chi-Jin for a minute and my static will be starting up Savage raiding soon. I’ve really enjoyed Lakshmi ex aswell, although the Bollywood music tends to get kind of annoying after two straight hours of it.
As far as the new classes go I’ve mostly been exploring Red Mage. The playstyle is very refreshing and fast once you get the hang of it and I’m pretty sure I’ll level it up fast after Bard and Warrior. Samurai right now just feels very complicated. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it once I start playing properly but for now I’m leaving the class alone. Bard is a different story. I really like that they removed the casttimes and what they did with the songs. It’s my second favourite class after Ninja and I’m slowly leveling it up, being stuck at 63 right now.

I’ve also been grinding out my crafters, kicking my miner up to level 50. I notice that the game as a whole is taking up a lot of my time so I might take a bit of a step back, map out what I want to do exactly and invest a bit less time. There’s a lot of other things that need my attention right now so I want the time that I do put into FFXIV to be useful, be it through leveling another class, working on my gatherers or getting my Ninja in the best gear. I may actually make a “roadmap for Stormblood” in which I put weekly, monthly and yearly goals. I know it sounds like quite the project but it’s something I’ve been thinking about longer and I may actually just go forward with it.
Ofcourse I’ll share this on the blog aswell, hopefully somewhere the next week.

All in all the vacation time has done me good. I’m more relaxed and focused and ready to take on everything again. I hope this also means I can get a bit more structured with my routines and include blogging more again. For now though I will have to finish here and head to bed… Seeing as I’m more tired from the vacation than when I flew off to go there!

Flooding

Literally getting my feet wet
When I came home on Wednesday evening I was in for a nasty surprise. Getting upstairs and into my bedroom after dinner I discovered quite an amount of water on my bedroom floor, courtesy of a leak. A combination of a partially clogged gutter near my skywindow and a ridiculous amount of marble sized hail proved to be a fatal combination to handle for the outside works thus “flooding” my room with water.
Luckily for me the area with my bed, desk and clothes closet was spared, thus leaving me breathing a sigh of relief as I saw all my electronics being intact and not having to deal with a wet bed. The only real victim of this whole ordeal has been the rug I used for under my deskchair, which is now sitting in the outside garbage bin because it was completely soaked. It didn’t give up without a fight though, seeing as it left behind quite a big chunk of rubber remains that I have for the most part scrubbed off the floor yesterday.
All in all not the best two days for me personally.  I have been quite sore all over today due to having to scrub the damn rubber off the floor and assisting my dad with maintenance work on my roof. Having to hold a tilted skywindow over your head for about 20 minutes is a real test to your arms, can tell you that much.

Picross Madness
I posted earlier this week about My Nintendo, Miitomo and the rewards program and mentioned that I had gotten The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess: Picross game.
I really love Picross. It’s one of those games that has you think about your moves and keeps your brain healthy. Combine it with a game series I’m really starting to get into and you have a gem of a game. I’m currently over 2/3rd of the way completed when it comes to the game. There are three modes of play: Picross, Mega Picross and Miicross.
Picross is the original game with the numbers and squares. You can opt into hints or not and after the inital tutorial there are 45 puzzles to complete ranging from 10×10 squares to 20×15 squares.
Mega Picross is the same puzzle buildup only with a twist in the puzzles themselves. Instead of having rows and colums seperately with numbers they have replaced some of them with numbers that span two rows or colums at the same time, making the puzzle a bit more challenging to complete (See picture below, it’s from Pokémon Picross but the same idea).

The last play mode option, Miicross, is a very large picture broken up into about sixty 10×10 puzzle grids. Solve them all and you unlock the picture.

So far I’ve completely solved the normal Picross mode and the Miicross and am now steadily working my way through the 10×10 grids in Mega Picross mode.
I find it a really nice puzzle game to play. I play it at home to relax after work or when I just don’t feel like starting up any of my machines. It’s also a nice way to spend the 15-20 mins on the train every day, making me be at my destination before I even notice.
The music is nice and not too annoying when played constantly and the graphics, as far as they matter, look good. The only downside so far has been that with the bigger puzzles the squares you need to tap to fill in get smaller and especially around the bottom edge of my screen it sometimes doesn’t really tap the right square, causing me to make an error and thus giving me a time penalty.
Time is  a thing is this game in so far that if you go over 30 mins in solving a puzzle you will not unlock the coloured picture. Going over 30 mins has proven to be almost impossible though, unless you keep on making mistakes so they have been really easy with that.

All in all I’ve really been enjoying this game and I feel like it’s a very good way to spend my first 1000 platinum points of the My Nintendo system. I’m currently saving up to get WarioWare Touched aswell, because free games are always awesome! And it will leave the programme at July 1st. With harking in around 200 coins every week though I should have that game on my 3DS in no time at all and have room to get both the Mario and Donkey Kong themes for my 3DS aswell.

Dietary Restrictions and PS4 Time

Last few weeks I’ve been slightly pigging out when it comes to food. March is a ridiculous month when it comes to birthdays so every weekend I was stuffing my face with all types of snacks, crisps, cake and other shit. Obviously this is bad when you’re trying to lose weight, so I’m putting myself back on some dietary restrictions. Trying to eat healthier (get some fruit instead of candy) and just eating less in general. I’m aiming for eating around 1200-1400 calories a day, mostly because 1200 is the minimum amount you  need to eat to keep on feeling healthy, and I don’t want my body to go into starvation mode.
Next to dietary restrictions I’m also trying to set some rules on my money spending habits. I’ve been spending a LOT of money on my new Wii U and getting games for it… So I should lay low for a while and stop spending. I’ve given myself a budget of €100 to spend each month on games and/or make-up. Seeing as Ratchet and Clank comes out in a few weeks that’s already some bucks gone, so I really need to think about what I want to buy next to that.

Seeing as it’s Easter, and I managed to get 5 days of free time due to lucky scheduling, I’ve been spending a lot of time just playing games. I can finally sit down for a longer time and get stuff done, instead of getting 2-3 hours of playtime in on a weekday where you can barely do a dungeon or mission in a game and then you need to start watching the clock to log off. I’ve also taken the opportunity to binge watch my way through Daredevil season 2 (which I loved) and start watching Jessica Jones (which I don’t nearly love as much). All in all I’m really using this elongated weekend to relax, play and get some “me” time in.

Sandrian Noble 19/03/2016 13:59:22

PS4 Shenaningans
I’ve been spending a lot of time playing on my PS4 in various games. Mostly FFXIV and The Division and I’ve been making some steady progress in both games.
In FFXIV I finally managed to get my hands on the Vath flying mount and oh my god it’s adorable. I really like the didgeridoo type of sound when it makes as I’m flying everywhere and it just reminds me of a really weird seahorse.
The Vath itself have been a silly but cute beasttribe. It reminded me in many ways of the Borg in Star Trek, and Square Enix did it’s best to incorporate some clear references to them aswell. I’m kind of sad that the Vath and Vanu Vanu appear to be the only beast tribes for this expansion, although you never know with Square Enix and maybe they will let us rank up with the Moogles aswell? Who knows.

Tom Clancy's The Division™_20160314230045

Division seems to be the hot game of the moment right now and ofcourse I couldn’t stay behind in playing it. Although I might not be as fast as most people playing, I’ve been making some steady progress. I really love roaming around in New York discovering stuff. I like taking my time and going into buildings and alleys and collecting all the random little lore bits, instead of just rushing ahead through the story without giving other things a second look.
I’m currently level 15 and roaming around in the Clinton District. I won’t deny that due to the nature of the game I’ve almost thrown my controller through the room in frustration multiple times. Shooters aren’t really my main genre and even if this is a more tactical one, I die a lot and am pretty bad in weapon handling.

The only real downside to Division for me seems to be the female character creator and the fact that lady characters absolutely look godawful if you give them a headpiece to wear. I’m really disappointed about this. Although Ubisoft clearly tried to attract a wider audience with this game, I wish they would actually not just give us variations of butch lesbian haircuts to choose from. Not to mention the seriously weird ass options you have for Caucasian female faces.
Ohwell.

 

Fun in the Sun – Blaugust day 8

It’s a bit of a slow day today for me. I went out to visit a friend and we went shopping. Or well I went shopping and dragged him along haha. Gaming wise I didn’t do much today. I took my 3DS with me, since I had to be underway for about an hour, and played through the first world of Super Mario Bros!
Another thing on my gaming to do list to scratch off. The problem I have with the Mario Bros game is that you don’t really complete it by just finishing the game. You see every level has three big star coins hidden throughout the level that you need in order to unlock secret bonus levels. I have not been collecting all of them, I’ve been more focused on just playing through the game, but I intend to go back and grab all of them and “finish” the game that way aswell. Some are really impressively hidden so I’m sure it will take me some time to actually find all of them.
And then there are hidden worlds you need to unlock via special cannons… I’ll probably read up on that after I played through the main storyline. Because unlockable content is cool!

Mostly though I’ve enjoyed being outside today, let my skin soak up some vitamin D (ofcourse with sunscreen on) had some nice munchies and generally relaxed before work starts on Tuesday. I have gotten my roster and boy am I in for a treat! I’m starting earlier than expected so I guess I’ll have to get used to getting up at 7, instead of 9.30-10.00 that I’m getting up now. Atleast I’m rostered for 32 hours a week so the pay should be nice. I don’t think I will get much done in the way of gaming though. I expect to be seriously tired and will probably go to bed around 22.00 the first week because I will lack sleep otherwise.

To end the evening, and before heading to bed and completely passing out, I’ve played through some Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris with a few buddies. It’s a 1-4 player game and it was free through Playstation Plus this month. We quite enjoyed ourselves. I might write about it in a bit more detail today. For now I’m heading to bed.

I know I’m about an hour too late with posting this officially for Blaugust. But it’s still considered to be my post for the 8th!

See you guys tomorrow!